Saturday

28th Jan 2023

Magazine

Norway tops up funding scheme for south-eastern EU states

  • The funding scheme renewal was delayed for over a year (Photo: Council of European Union)

Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein on Wednesday (28 July) agreed to donate €1.79 billion to the EU's poorer southern and eastern members in the coming five years for green projects, labour rights, research and human resources, a top-up of 22 percent compared to the previous period.

The funding scheme is part of the "European Economic Area" agreement which ties the three countries to the EU, allowing them to participate in the internal market without actual membership of the bloc.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Norway provides 97 percent of the funding, amounting to €1.73 billion, and has expressed its satisfaction that the original demand put forward by the EU – over €2 billion – was scaled down.

"The negotiations have been long and challenging. The demand originally put forward by the EU has been reduced to a sum that is acceptable, and we have agreed on how our contribution is to be targeted  in order to ensure good results for both Norway and the EU," Norway's foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store said in a statement.

Initial disagreements over fish quotas for Norway, which are also part of the agreement, dragged the talks on until December 2009, when Oslo agreed to the terms of the deal. Since then, EU member states on the receiving end – all eastern European countries plus Greece, Spain and Portugal – have been quarrelling over who gets what.

This means that although the funding period is supposed to cover the years 2009-2014, money will not actually start flowing until 2011, pending bilateral agreements which still have to be signed with each recipient country.

Poland will continue to be the biggest recipient of the scheme, with €578.1 million, followed by Romania, for whom €306 million have been earmarked.

The bulk of the money will be allocated to environment protection programmes, renewable energy and the development of "carbon capture and storage" technology aimed at reducing CO2 emissions.

"We are entering into a critical phase in the global climate efforts, and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the EU on giving priority to climate change in the EEA cooperation with new member states," Mr Store said.

A novelty of the renewed agreement is the set-up of a fund worth €8 million targeting the promotion of "decent work" and tripartite dialogue with labour unions, employers and government officials, in line with the "Nordic model" of social democracy that Oslo is proud of.

Meanwhile, Iceland, who just started accession negotiations with the EU, gave reassurances it would not abandon its financial commitments even if it were to become a member before 2014 when the scheme is again up for renewal.

Switzerland, also a non-EU member integrated in the internal market and the border-free zone of the EU, has a parallel funding scheme for the new member states. Brussels is now looking at ways to integrate Bern into the EEA agreement – to which Swiss voters said no in a referendum in 1992.

Magazine

A deep dive into the EU regional funds

While the regional funds account for a full third of the EU budget, they are somewhat under-reported. EUobserver's latest edition of the Regions & Cities magazine looks at the EU's cohesion policy.

Magazine

A tourist's guide to EU-funded Amsterdam

When it comes to projects paid for by EU regional funds, most people think of roads in Romania or bridges in Bulgaria. But richer regions also receive money. EUobserver takes you on a tour of selected projects in Amsterdam.

Magazine

Tug of war between 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' cohesion money

The European Commission has promised greater flexibility for local authorities when it comes to delivering on-the-ground results - but it has also tied cohesion policy to the European Semester, a tool used to coordinate macroeconomic policies.

Interview

Commissioner Cretu: the EU budget is 'very emotional'

Despite Brexit and new priorities, it is important to keep EU funds for all regions - rich and poor - argues the regions commissioner. But more controls, including a link to rule of law issues, are part of the discussion.

Magazine

A deep dive into the EU regional funds

While the regional funds account for a full third of the EU budget, they are somewhat under-reported. EUobserver's latest edition of the Regions & Cities magazine looks at the EU's cohesion policy.

Magazine

The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

Latest News

  1. Pressure mounts on EU to coordinate visas for Russian rights-defenders
  2. Dutch set to agree to US-led chip controls to China
  3. No record of Latvian MEP's 'official' Azerbaijan trip
  4. Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters
  5. Europe continues to finance Russia's war in Ukraine with lucrative fossil fuel trades
  6. Official: EU parliament's weak internal rule-making body leads to 'culture of impunity'
  7. Red tape border logjam for EU's 1.3m 'frontier workers'
  8. Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us